149 Drawing Blood
Immediately after the roar erupted from the corrupted creature, the cracks on its face suddenly split open a little wider with a loud crack. It twisted its head to an impossible angle and looked directly at Zoey behind it. Through the fractures on its face, Zoey could see two red orbs glowing with malice, like twin suns shining from an abyss. Then, it moved.
If Zoey did not have her Dark Star Vision active, she would not have been able to react in time as the creature's arm blade sliced horizontally through the air where she had just been. She had dropped backwards to avoid the strike, and while she fell fired both barrels of her DAAC at the creature. As she fired her weapon she activated her Ice Armor and her Crystal Claw Bracer on her right arm and used it to launch herself away from the creature.
She emerged from the explosion caused by her slugs flying backwards through the air with the creature emerging hot on her heels. In a blur of movement, she swapped out her DAAC with the Mk1 Prototype Armament and sent it screaming at the creature with her Dark Star Control. In the same breath she used her Gravity Rune Array to lessen her weight as she used her Crystal Claw to send a Shadow Blade at the oncoming enemy. Her lessened weight and the force she used in her two attacks sent her flying even faster towards the wall of the room while the creature dealt with her attacks.
Her Shadow Blade was blocked by the creature's shield, leaving behind a dark scar on its surface but not doing much else. On the other side the Mk1 was directly under her control, and thanks to her Dark Star Enmity, Zoey could sense exactly where she needed to send it for the best effect.
When the creature moved its arm blade to deflect her weapon as it flew towards it, she twisted her hand and sent the Mk1 into a spiral that caused the creature to miss the Mk1 completely with its deflection attempt. Zoey directed the Mk1 at the creature's neck as she put as much force into it as she could with her Dark Star Control.
The corrupted creature tried to twist in midair to avoid the strike, but the Mk1 was too fast. The sand colored blade gouged into the creature's shoulder as it twisted to avoid it, then Zoey manipulated it so it rotated around and sliced its way down the creature's back. It was a good hit, but aside from the initial strike on the shoulder, the score down the back had not penetrated the exoskeleton. But her efforts had been rewarded, and a black, tar-like substance was oozing from the hole left behind on its shoulder. Zoey had drawn blood.
This exchange only took a few seconds from when it started to when Zoey scored a hit. She landed with her feet planted on the wall of the room, her Gravity Rune Array anchoring her to the wall as she watched the creature and planned her next move.
Her opponent was strong, at least as strong as a Rank 5 warrior or even higher. The only reason she was able to compete with the monster was due to the fact that she was not a normal human. She was Rank 4, but also modified on a genetic level by a mysterious power, possessed dual Heritages, and had her Dark Star techniques along with numerous skills and equipment.
All of this meant that she was able to hold her own against a creature that was an entire rank ahead of her, normally an insurmountable gap when it came to raw power.
But this fight was not over. The corrupted creature was getting more and more agitated not that it had been wounded and its prey had been able to avoid it. It let loose another bloodcurdling roar as it prepared to attack again.
Zoey on the other hand had not been idle. Her mind had been whirling as she formulated a plan to take this creature down, and once she had a plan, she sprang into action once more.
Max was angry.
Since the moment he had stepped foot in this place he had been subjected to a tsunami of pain that had almost consumed him. Thankfully, he had managed to keep it under control and channeled the pain into anger at whoever was responsible for this mess.
The further they went into the dungeon and the more he saw, the stronger this anger became. The suffering of these beasts was unjust and cruel, and their cries for the pain to end grated on his mind like claws.
But despite how much he wanted to help put an end to this orchestra of horror, he had run into a wall. The corrupted creature that they also had to stop stood in their way, and instinctively he knew that it was beyond his strength. He was strong, stronger than normal humans, but he was still not even Rank 1, and he could sense the corrupted ahead of them would end him in an instant.
Zoey was different. She was an Arbiter of the goddess Sethrii as she had told him. It was what allowed her to face these corrupted and take them down. He wanted to help her, but his own inadequacies were too great.
When he realized this, he had turned his anger towards himself. He had wanted to protect Zoey, to stand before her and be her shield, but he had only been an angry child in the face of a true monster, and for that he was angry with himself.
But Zoey had still asked him to help. She had said that she needed him to watch her back, and once again she had pulled him from the trap he had placed himself into. She had once saved his life, and helped him fulfil his mother's final wish. She had brought light into his world once again, showing him that despite the pain in his past, the future still held happiness.
So he would watch her back with all the determination that he could muster. When he heard the battle begin behind him, and the beasts appeared swarming towards him through the tunnel, he raised his fists and went to work. He had faith that Zoey would win, and he knew that she was depending on him to stop the beasts, so he would do what he could and stop the beasts one last time.
So while the boy battled the beasts, the girl fought the corrupted, and time continued tick tock away...